How to Winter Sow Seeds Outdoors in 9 Easy Steps

2 Materials
1 Hour

Looking for ways to start seeds this winter? Wait until you see how easy it is to winter sow seeds outdoors!

Winter sowing seeds outdoors is a great way to get a jump on the next growing season without sacrificing space indoors to start seeds.

Since seeds germinate and grow in the outdoor environment, acclimating plants to the outdoors is much easier.

So I decided to try this method because after starting all those seeds indoors last year, I am inspired to grow more here at the new house.

Now maybe you think that’s a little nuts given I started about 1400 flowers indoors last season, but hear me out.

I have a new garden.

And while the gardens have a lot of great bones.

I need to grow more flowers here.

And what better way than to start them from seed!

It’s much less expensive than purchasing full-grown plants.

Plus I can get more of a variety, as well as plants not readily available at local nurseries.

Not to mention, I need to grow another cut flower garden this year.

Because I love making bouquets.

While I still plan to sow seed indoors in my sunroom, I could grow SO MUCH MORE if I winter sow some outdoors!

It’s pretty easy and inexpensive to do too because we are mostly working with recycled materials.

So are you ready to grow more plants with me?

Let’s do this!

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When Should I Start Winter Sowing?As a general rule, you don’t want to start before the winter begins (December 21).

And with the holidays immediately following that time, to me, January is a great time to get started.

New year new plants, am I right?

How Late Can I Winter Sow?

The answer depends on the type of seeds you plan to grow.

If certain seeds have a chill requirement, then they need to be started at least 4-5 weeks before the temperatures rise above freezing.

However, if seeds do not require that chill period, then you can sow them later.

I’ve been so busy renovating the dining room and sunroom that I’m just getting my act together now, so it’s not too late to begin!

Recycle containers and milk jugs to winter sow seeds outdoors.

Can You Winter Sow Anything?

Not everything can be winter sowed outdoors.

In general, herbs, perennials, cold-hardy annuals, and cold crop vegetables are the best types of seeds to winter sow outdoors.

I’m not starting vegetables from seed this year, so I’m going to start a few cold-hardy annuals to see how they do with this method.

You won’t know until you try!

Gardening is one big experiment.

Either it will work or it won’t.

I’m starting some of the same seeds indoors too so all will not be lost if this method doesn’t work.

What Seeds Are Good For Winter Sowing?

There are lots of options out there to winter sow.

Here are a few types of seed to consider trying:

  • Butterfly weed
  • Foxglove
  • Calendula
  • Larkspur
  • Poppies
  • Coreopsis
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Spinach
  • Carrots

Supplies Needed for Winter Sowing

Sowing seeds outdoors in winter requires much less than doing them inside.

Plus, it’s a great way to recycle items from around the house such as milk jugs and rotisserie chicken containers.

Thus, winter sowing is very eco-friendly!

Here’s What You Need

  • Recycled container to start seeds
  • Organic potting soil
  • Seeds
  • Tape
  • Sharp knife or blade

Where to Buy Good Quality Seeds

There are lots of places you can purchase good quality seeds.

I prefer ordering from:

  • Floret Flower Farm
  • Johnny’s Selected Seeds

How to Winter Sow Seeds Outdoors

While we are winter sowing seeds outdoors today, you can still start seeds indoors too. (Depending on the type of plant you want to grow, it’s not too late to get started. Just follow THESE tips.)

But wait until you see how easy winter sowing is to do.

  • Gather the supplies.
  • Add drainage holes to the bottom of containers so moisture can drain out.
  • If using a milk jug, cut the jug in half so it can be filled with organic potting soil and planted. And remove nutrition labels from lids or covers so light is able to reach seeds.
  • Fill the bottoms of containers about halfway with pre-moistened potting soil. (You should be able to make a ball out of the soil without it falling apart.) To keep things neat in my workspace, I used THIS tray to hold the potting soil and THIS tray beneath my containers.
  • Then sow your seeds with THIS method.
  • Attach the cover and tape it closed.
  • Label the containers well so you know what’s planted.
  • Remove the cap or add a few holes at the top of the container to insure good airflow.
  • Then move to an outdoor location that receives sunlight and rain, but is protected from harsh weather. And if you live in a warmer climate, set them in a shadier spot where they’ll receive moisture but don’t cook in the heat.
  • Check weekly to make sure they are moist.

3 Quick Tips for Winter Sowing

  • Sow one type of seed per container – do not mix varieties.
  • Label well with plant variety and the date sowed. Keep seed packets for easy reference.
  • Check them once a week to make sure containers stay evenly moist.

What I Am Winter Sowing

This year, I am winter sowing sweet peas, larkspur, calendula, and some snapdragons.

I’m also starting those same seeds indoors, but want to see how well they do when sowed outdoors in winter.

Larkspur that I started from seed in last year’s cut flower garden.

I’ve only started these seeds indoors before under the lights, so I’m curious to see how they do using the winter sowing method.

Although I’m a little late getting started, there’s still plenty of winter left here in New Jersey to get these seeds started.

Let’s hope they germinate!

Looking for More Gardening Tutorials, Tips, Tricks and Inspiration?

Check out these informative posts.

  • Cut Flower Gardening For Beginners
  • Garden Design Ideas: How to Have an Everblooming Colorful Garden
  • 7 Ways to Keep Deer From Eating Your Plants
  • Why and How to Divide Perennials
  • The Basics of Hydrangea Care
  • 5 Easy Ways to Grow a Cottage Garden
  • The Complete Guide to Roses Care

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Stacy Ling | Bricks 'n Blooms
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  • Lisa Maxey Lisa Maxey on Mar 21, 2022

    I can't wait to try this!

  • Tam Tam on Mar 21, 2022

    Boy did I NEED THIS! Thank you for the simplicity....and I actually feel like I 'might' not be as lazy this year to try it! I ALWAYS end up buying full grown whatever it is....WAAAY TOO EXPENSIVE... And every year I pass by those cute, little spinny-things (with mis-matched bags of seeds...because like Home Depot supplies, NOBODY PUTS THEM BACK WHERE THEY BELONG (but I digress)....on the way to check out and think, '"Seeds are the way to go".... And off I GO...without buying any of them!

    (Did I say Thank You?...I humbly thank you with helping me with my laziness)